Leadership development presents a paradox. Leadership development happens one developing leader at a time, but the leaders work happens in teams. That’s why we need to link team learning and the learning of the developing leader.
Leadership development for working in teams
The most effective teams learn quickly. Elizabeth Doty’s article in strategy+business gets at the heart of the matter.
“Many leaders want to accelerate learning on their teams. They know that in a knowledge-driven economy, continuously developing new competencies is the key to sustainable advantage. But in practice, there never seems to be enough money or time. Why is it so difficult to get our teams learning at scale? In my experience, the central challenge is that leaders tend to think of learning too narrowly — equating it with training, mentoring, or “constructive feedback” during performance reviews. But all of these are inputs that may or may not correlate with the results we want to create.”
Leaders must master the skills of helping teams learn in the workflow. They need to be familiar with after-action critiques and the importance of banking the lessons of experience. But there must be one more step.
Leadership development adds the individual learning component
We need to help developing leaders become expert team leaders and that includes helping the team learn effectively and quickly. But we shouldn’t leave that precious individual learning to chance. Our leadership development programs should have a coaching component that helps the leaders capture the leadership lessons in their team’s experience and also in their personal experience of helping the team learn.